Nintendo's 2DS handheld gaming platform.
While Nintendo struggles to capture the attention of video game players in the home console business, its handheld gaming system has taken off.
A well-timed price cut combined with an impressive lineup of fresh games (Super Mario 3D Land, Animal Crossing: New Leaf) have fueled a spike in sales for the Nintendo 3DS. It's been the top-selling piece of video game hardware in the U.S. for five straight months, according to NPD Group.
So it's surprising to watch Nintendo announce the 2DS, an entry-level handheld with no 3-D option and a major shift in design. But the 2DS represents a solid, affordable alternative that leverages a massive game library.
The 2DS mirrors the 3DS in almost every facet. The controls are the same. Players still have two screens, the same selection of inputs and the standard set of apps such as Swapnote and the eShop are still available.
The big difference is the design. The clamshell form factor featured in every previous DS has been replaced by a slate design. It's feels a bit more plastic than your standard DS model. Without hinges to open and close the device and a shorter body, the control layout has changed, too. The thumbstick, directional pad and face buttons have been moved up closer to the top screen. A Wi-Fi switch has been replaced by a Sleep switch to quickly turn the 2DS on and off. Also, the left and right shoulder buttons are bigger. And, naturally, 3-D support for games is gone. Users can still take 3-D pictures, but can't view them unless they share with a 3DS.
Most 3DS games transition well to 2DS, but the experience may vary depending on how reliant the game is on 3-D visuals. Spending time on Super Mario 3D Land isn't as fun in 2-D as it is in 3-D, where you can easily catch glimpses of hidden walkways and tunnels with the added perspective.
Although its appearance looks awkward, the 2DS is a comfy device to use. I played several games including Mario Kart and Scribblenauts Unmasked, and found the experiences to be as enjoyable as they would on a 3DS. The 2DS is compatible with both 3DS and standard DS titles, so players will have an incredible selection of titles to choose from.
However, the physical design does carry some drawbacks. There's no way to protect the screens, so it's hard to say how well the 2DS holds up after several months and years of wear and tear. Nintendo tries to mitigate this by offering a separate carrying case in red or blue for $12.99.
The other problem with 2DS the slate design hampers the device's portability. Many users can easily stash a standard 3DS in their pants or jacket pockets. Players may want a jacket with big pockets or a bag if they want to stash their 2DS while travelling.
But that's the tradeoff when spending $130 to dive into the world of the DS. It's a great entry point into the platform that has a well-established selection of games, especially for kids (there's a reason Nintendo launched its latest Pokemon title along side 2DS). Although the design might turn off some players, the price point should tempt many frugal video game players.
- by Brett Molina, USA TODAY